SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 70
August 1, 2002

PROPOSALS TO LOOSEN FISA STANDARDS REVIEWED

The Senate Intelligence Committee held a rare open hearing yesterday to consider two bills that propose to lower the threshold for conducting surveillance and search of suspected foreign intelligence and terrorist targets in the United States, making it easier to conduct such surveillance and search operations. The bills would amend the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Government witnesses from the Justice Department, CIA and FBI all said some changes to FISA were warranted.

"While I cannot discuss specific cases in a public hearing," said FBI Deputy General Counsel Marion E. (Spike) Bowman, "the FBI has encountered individuals who cannot be sufficiently linked to a terrorist group or organization as [currently] required by FISA" for issuance of a surveillance authorization.

A civil liberties critique of the pending proposals was provided by Jerry Berman of the Center for Democracy and Technology who argued that "however well-intentioned, [the proposals] are unlikely to serve our intelligence interests enough to justify their negative impact on civil liberties."

See the prepared statements from the July 31 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on "Proposals to Amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act" here:


DETAILS OF 1975 RICHARD WELCH MURDER EMERGE

The 1975 murder of CIA Station Chief Richard Welch in Athens, Greece was the first killing committed by the Greek underground terrorist group known as November 17. With the recent arrest of several leaders of the group, details of the long unsolved Welch murder are beginning to emerge.

See "17 November Member Serifis Confesses to two Murders" from the Greek newspaper To Vima, July 27, helpfully translated by the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service:

The Welch murder had policy consequences for U.S. intelligence above and beyond the death of an exemplary intelligence officer. Ford Administration officials orchestrated an unusual degree of pomp and circumstance around the mournful event for the clear purpose of curtailing the pending investigations by the Senate Church Committee, and limiting the impact of that Committee's recommendations concerning reform of U.S. intelligence policy.

The impact of the Welch murder on the congressional investigations was memorably discussed by Loch Johnson in A Season of Inquiry (1985, Univ Press of Kentucky); and by Kathryn S. Olmsted in Challenging the Secret Government (1996, Univ of North Carolina Press).


A BILL TO RENAME THE FBI BUILDING

Rep. Dan Burton introduced legislation last week to remove the name of J. Edgar Hoover from the FBI headquarters building as a kind of posthumous rebuke to the controversial FBI director, who died in 1972.

"J. Edgar Hoover clearly abused his role as Director of the FBI," said Rep. Burton in a press release. "Symbolism matters in the United States, and it is wrong to honor a man who frequently manipulated the law to achieve his personal goals." See:

The text of the bill (H.R. 5213), introduced July 25, may be found here:


SSCI REPORT ON PERUVIAN AIRCRAFT SHOOTDOWN

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued a staff report last October on the mistaken shootdown of a suspected drug trafficking aircraft, tracked by CIA monitors, that turned out to be carrying Baptist missionaries.

The report, entitled "A Review of U.S. Assistance to Peruvian Counter-Drug Air Interdiction Efforts and the Shootdown of a Civilian Aircraft on April 20, 2001," has recently been made available on the Committee's web site [intelligence.senate.gov]. A copy is posted here (2.3 MB PDF file):


SWATTING LEAKS: DOWN THE MEMORY HOLE

The web-based news service NewsMax.com has deleted its startling July 27 article about leaks of classified information that quoted CIA official James Bruce declaring hyperbolically that "We've got to do whatever it takes -- if it takes sending SWAT teams into journalists' homes -- to stop these leaks."

No explanation for the story's removal was offered. But one source said that Mr. Bruce's remarks last week had been made "off the record" and were never intended to be quoted or publicized.

A portion of the NewsMax.com article is preserved on Russ Kick's aptly named web site The Memory Hole:


INTELLIGENCE AND PEACEKEEPING

The Netherlands Intelligence Study Association announces an international conference on Intelligence and Peacekeeping to be held November 15-16, 2002, at the Netherlands Defence College. See:


FRIENDS OF HEBREW UNIVERSITY

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is an oasis of free inquiry and pluralism in a region that is overwhelmingly hostile to such values. In a way, it was therefore a natural target for the Hamas terrorists who bombed the University cafeteria yesterday, killing seven people and wounding dozens.

Donations in support of the University's programs may be sent to American Friends of Hebrew University:

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Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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